CHARLESTON — U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) joined her colleague, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), in leading a bipartisan, bicameral push in Congress to include the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, in the next coronavirus (COVID-19) relief package. This bipartisan legislation would designate 9-8-8 as the three-digit number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.
“We write to request the inclusion of S. 2661/ H.R. 4194, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, in the next COVID-19 relief package. The creation of this three-digit dialing code is essential in order to address the growing suicide crisis across the United States,” wrote Senator Capito and her colleagues. “As our country is facing an unprecedented challenge in responding to COVID-19, this three-digit hotline would play a critical role in saving the lives of many vulnerable Americans who are facing mental health emergencies during this period of isolation and uncertainty. Suicide does not discriminate between rural and urban areas or by income, and it causes heartbreak and loss in communities in every single one of our states. We must ensure that we are doing everything we can to prevent these devastating outcomes from occurring, especially in these trying times as grief and uncertainty encompass our nation.”
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act designates 9-8-8 as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which would include the Veterans Crisis Line for veteran-specific mental health support. The current National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Veterans Crisis line is 10-digits long, which is a barrier to Americans in crisis seeking support.
In August 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released their report, which found that a national three-digit line would improve suicide prevention and recommended a simple number that Americans could dial in times of crisis: 9-8-8.
In December 2019, the FCC approved a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to designate 9-8-8 as the three-digit number for a national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline.